I outlined different types and materials for fireplaces in a previous blog post, so today I’m going to talk about chimney materials. Chimneys may be built from a variety of materials and create nearly any look you desire. Your chimney can be as unique or as classy as your home, given the proper materials and a contractor who knows what you want.
Masonry chimneys, like masonry fireplaces, are constructed of brick, block, or stone held together by mortar. Depending on the size required, they may be made of a single layer of brick, or multiple layers of block, brick, or stone as needed. Structural stability will, of course, increase the thicker the walls become.
Metal chimneys are generally round and double- or triple-walled for added protection against chimney fires. They may be used as a solo unit if you like the look of a metal chimney with the design of your home, or they may be encased within a masonry, wooden, or metal frame for aesthetics. For example, you may use copper or a wrought iron designed casing for your metal chimney.
Before Designing and Installing Your Chimney
Not all fireplaces and chimneys will work well together. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines or ask for assistance from a certified chimney sweep or an experienced general contractor before making any decisions. You absolutely must make sure that the chimney you install will work safely with your chosen fireplace. Requesting the help of a certified professional will give you the peace of mind that you need to operate the fireplace without worry.
Chimney liners haven’t always been mandatory, but since the 1980s each chimney is required to have a chimney liner. Three primary types of chimney liner exist, and each does a great job when used as intended. Clay tiles, metal, and cast-in-place are your three options when choosing a chimney liner. If you’re unsure which type would work best for you, call me for a free consultation.
Clay: Inexpensive, but do not withstand rapid temperature changes as well as their counterparts. Any cracks or breaks must be repaired immediately.
Aluminum: The least expensive of metal chimney liners. Aluminum works best with gas appliances.
Stainless Steel: The more expensive of metal liners. Stainless Steel works equally well with any type of fireplace or wood burning stove.
Cast-in-Place: A cement chimney liner that is cast on-site so it perfectly fits into your chimney as needed. This light-weight cement cast provides additional support to your chimney while acting as a chimney liner.
Regardless of the material used to make your chimney or to line it, it is not maintenance-free. No chimney should ever be considered maintenance-free. Yearly maintenance is absolutely required in order to maintain a safe operational environment. Creosote buildup isn’t the only danger involved in chimney ownership. You must also consider blockages, small animals, birds, and structural stability of the unit as a whole.
Schedule your yearly fireplace and chimney maintenance in advance so you don’t forget it. Plan all of your maintenance on a specific date that you won’t forget, such as your birthday, your anniversary, the anniversary of the date you purchased the home… anything that helps you remember the date. Or use your smart phone, I’m sure there’s an app for that.